Page 27


I don’t know how to tell Isabel all that, though, so I just shrug. “It has its moments.”
Skipping slightly, she takes my wrist and gives me a little shake. “Like us getting to see and possibly meet and, in my case, marry Declan Shield this fall.”
Laughing, I shake her off. “Wait, I thought you were all about Seb.”
Isabel gives a shrug and flips her hair over her shoulder. “I can handle both,” she says, lifting her nose in the air, and we’re still laughing as we turn the corner out of the hallway.
We’re just coming back down the stairs when I hear the sound of someone coming up. Taking Isabel’s wrist, I pull us to one side, expecting to see a butler or one of the 9,000 secretaries the royal family seems to have wandering around. But instead, I catch sight of a glint of auburn hair, and before I know it, Seb is rounding the curve of the stairwell.
He’s not as well dressed as he was the first time I saw him—it’s jeans and a henley today—but that doesn’t stop Isabel from freezing in place, her free hand coming up to grab the fingers I have locked around her wrist.
Seb comes to a sudden stop, looking at us standing there and clearly noticing—and liking—the look on Isabel’s face.
“Ah, Daisy,” he says, but his eyes are still on Isabel. “I didn’t know you were staying at the palace.”
“I’m not,” I tell him, inching down a step, pulling Isabel behind me. “I was just showing my friend around. Isabel, this is—”
“Iknowwhoheis,” Isa says, all in a rush, and I fight the urge to groan. Of course. Of course we’d run into Seb the day Isabel has just gotten her heart splattered by her boyfriend, and of course Seb would be looking both extremely handsome and not as intimidatingly princely as usual, and oh, this is bad. This is really bad.
Especially because Seb begins to bloom under her obvious smitten-ness.
“Isabel,” he repeats, and then he reaches out and takes her hand. Doesn’t shake it (doesn’t kiss it, either, thank god), but just holds it, his blue eyes bright, his smile a winning combination of charm and mischief. I’ve seen it on him before. It’s a look that says, “Yes, whatever happens with us will probably be a bad idea, but won’t it be fun?”
And I am not here for it.
“So we were just leaving,” I tell him, fighting the urge to pull Isa’s hand from his.
But Seb isn’t letting go, and he’s also not looking at me. “Where were you headed?” he asks her.
She’s still glamoured, pretty much, smiling down at him there on the lower step, so I sigh, roll my eyes, and say, “Museums. Bookstores. Other respectable establishments.”
Seb’s grin deepens. “Well, that’s no fun at all,” he all but purrs, and oh my gooooddddddd, how is Isa not seeing this for the line it is?
Because her boyfriend has broken her heart, you idiot, I remind myself, and now the most eligible teenage boy in the world is talking to her and holding her hand and giving her the full court press.
“We’re actually going to a book signing in a little bit,” I say, already preparing to pull Isa away, but he leans against the banister, his eyes still on Isabel.
“Who’s the author?” he asks, and Isa answers, “Ash Bentley.”
To my surprise, Seb straightens up, lifting his eyebrows. “Seriously?”
“Do not tell me you know who that is,” I say, but Seb shoots me a look.
“I read Finnigan’s Falcon five times the year it came out. I actually went as Finnigan to a fancy dress party just a few months ago. Ask any of the lads, they’ll tell you.”
It’s very hard to imagine Prince Sebastian, royal rogue, reading about the adventures of space mage Finnigan Sparks, but he does look genuinely . . . excited? His eyes are bright, he’s grinning, and this is actually worse than his usual prince schtick. Cute, royal, and into a nerdy book series?
No girl could resist.
“I’ll come with,” he says, and I lift a hand, palm out.
“Okay, no, because, A, no boys allowed, and, B, you’re going to cause a total scene if you just roll up to a bookstore. No one will pay any attention to the author if you’re there.”
Seb’s brow wrinkles as he thinks that over. Then his face clears and he snaps, pointing at me.
“No worries, ladies,” he says, but I have all the worries as he adds, “I’ve got a plan.”
Chapter 19
“This is,” I say as I walk down the street between Isabel and Seb, “by far the stupidest thing I have ever done.”
We’re headed to the Ash Bentley signing—I insisted we walk rather than take cars because the cars would be too conspicuous—and I feel like at any moment, someone is going to notice that the tall dude next to us in the cloak and space helmet is Prince Sebastian.
“Given that you participated in the Cinnamon Challenge not once, not twice, but three times, that’s really saying something,” Isabel replies, moving her bag up higher on her shoulder as she keeps looking at Seb out of the corner of her eye.
There’s basically no part of his face visible, and the cloak covers him from neck to ankle, but I’m convinced someone is going to figure it out. How can they not? Even completely hidden, he seems to stand out. Too tall, too swaggery . . .
And too into Isabel.
“Does the cloak accentuate my eyes?” he asks her, and honestly, how is he capable of flirting while wearing a space helmet, I ask you?
Giggling, Isa looks up at him, squinting slightly. “I can’t actually see your eyes,” she reminds him, and he ducks his head closer to her.
“You’re not trying hard enough,” he says, and I am going to vomit right here on this perfectly charming street.
“Less talking, more walking,” I say to Seb. “Your face might not be recognizable, but your voice is.”
He scoffs inside the helmet. “I sound like every other bloke on the street. And here, watch this.”
Stepping just a little ahead of us, Seb lifts his arms wide, black cloak billowing, tilts his head back, and yells through the helmet, “GOOD PEOPLE OF EDINBURGH! ’TIS I! YOUR PRINCE!”
A guy in a jean jacket gives him the side-eye and mutters some variation of the f-word, while a group of girls in school uniforms nudge each other and roll their eyes as they walk past.
Seb drops his arms, and even with that helmet (which, gotta admit, is a pretty perfect replica of what Finnigan Sparks wears on the cover of Finnigan’s Moon), I swear I can feel him grinning.
“See? No one gives a toss.”
“No one gives a toss, Dais,” Isa repeats with a shrug, then breaks into giggles again, jogging a little to catch up with Seb, and I watch them, fighting the urge to stamp my foot.
It’s silly, really, feeling jealous or upstaged or whatever it is currently twisting my stomach. It’s just that I’d looked forward to this day with Isa, and now it’s becoming a Seb day.
But then I remind myself that, hey, Isabel is having fun, and after the whole thing with Ben she deserves that. Besides, it is kind of nice to know that Seb is a genuine Finnigan Freak. On the way here, he made a pretty good case for Team Jezza, complete with examples from the book, and now, as we make our way to the bookstore, I hear him telling Isabel, “Miranda was ace in Finnigan and the Starhold. Most I’ve ever liked her.”